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YouTube launches eyewitness video ‘newswire’

WASHINGTON: YouTube announced plans Thursday for a “newswire” of eyewitness videos and a separate project on videos related to social justice and human rights.

In partnership with the social news group Storyful, the YouTube Newswire will be “a curated feed of the most newsworthy eyewitness videos of the day, which have been verified by Storyful’s team of editors,” a blog post from the Google-owned video sharing service said.

“With the Newswire, we hope to provide journalists with an invaluable resource to discover news video around major events, and to highlight eyewitness video that offers new perspectives on important news stories.”

The initiative will draw on user-contributed videos on YouTube such as those which have been important sources for events such as the Arab Spring uprisings and protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

“It’s almost impossible to turn on the news during a breaking event without seeing raw video uploaded by a YouTube user somewhere across the globe,” Google News Lab’s Olivia Ma said in the blog post.

“Today, more than five million hours of news video is watched on YouTube every day, and the role of the eyewitness has never had a more vital place in the newsgathering process.”

YouTube also said it was launching a team to work on verification of videos contributed to the platform called The First Draft Coalition.

It will includes experts from Eyewitness Media Hub, Storyful, Bellingcat, First Look Media and others and “will develop and program a new site for verification and ethics training, tools, research, and, most importantly, case studies around the biggest news stories of the moment,” according to the statement.

A separate announcement said YouTube would team up with the Witness Media Lab on “a series of in-depth projects that focus on human rights struggles as seen from the perspective of those who live, witness, and experience them.”

The first project will explore the impact of bystander videos in bringing about justice in police brutality cases in the United States.

The Witness Media Lab developed out of the YouTube Human Rights Channel launched in 2012 and its predecessor, The Hub.

On its own site, Witness said that “the next stage of human rights documentation and advocacy will be powered by videos created and shared by eyewitnesses.”

Every few months, the lab will highlight a different human rights struggle through the lens of eyewitness video. -AFP

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